Monday, 18 October 2021

Back to commuting on a Brompton

It has felt like ages since I wrote a blog post. I have been rather busy of late and just haven't had the time to put fingers to the keyboard. Ironically, September and what we have had of October has been one of my most active Brompton cycling months. I have been on several adventures - including a nocturnal run to Southend - but just haven't had the time to let you all know about what I have been up to. There has been one big change.

A few years ago I stopped commuting on my Brompton bikes - for reasons I won't go into now. I have missed this a great deal but from more or less the start of September until now I have cycled to work by Brompton.

I have three Brompton bicycles:

  • Orange Titanium, M6LX
  • Cloud Blue, M6L
  • Orange, Black Special Edition, S6L (but with a rider bar fitted, so more like an M-type)

My commuter hack has turned out to be my Orange, Black Special Edition. This is the only one of my bicycles that has still got the standard Marathon tyres fitted. All the others have the newish Continental tyre - that I really do like a great deal.

I have given up on a dynamo set up mainly as the wire bracket holding the light always shears off and the version that works, doesn't really make it easy to use a bag on the front mount. Instead I use the Brompton Cateye mount - which works really, really well. I can also use an old Volt 300 in addition to the one that comes with it. 

Talking of bags I currently have two that I use regularly. The first is the 'Brompton Borough Large Roll.' This is a great bag that has a huge capacity, with a material that has some degree of waterproofing without the use of the rain cover it comes with. The second and perhaps my favourite is the 'Brompton Borough Large Waterproof Bag - Navy' that is for my money, the best bag they produce. Large capacity and totally waterproof, it really is an excellent commuter bag. 

My commute is not really that far but it does cut my journey time down by a considerable amount when compared to walking. As I did when up to a few years ago I took the Brompton to work every day, I cycle in all weathers. If it is raining I will wear a waterproof jacket and some waterproof Proviz over-trousers. If the weather is dry and mild, I just wear my suit. 

So far it has all worked really well. Abandoning my former route to one created by my Wahoo, I now cycle on very quiet roads I previously knew noting about. This new route is better in every way. 

Winter is of course coming but the only thing that has ever halted my Brompton commute has been icy roads and snow. Normally this doesn't happen too often. 

I hope that you are all well out there and hopefully I will be abel to get some more blog posts out there to reflect all the cycling I have been doing.

Stay safe out there people!

Friday, 1 October 2021

London to Shoreham-by-Sea overnight

Friday night was the penultimate night ride to the coast - London to Shoreham-by-Sea. Setting off I said goodbye to Mrs Orange and the Orangettes and headed off on the short tube journey to central London. I stopped at a few old haunts on route and got to the start point in good time. 

At the start Jenny - our ride leader was there along with Dr John, Charlie and Mark - all on Brompton bikes and later on Geoff, who was on big wheels. This ride was going to be rather different for Mark and I as we were elevated to the lofty status of wingmen to Squadron Leader Jenny. It would be our job to ensure we had participants marking corners/junctions so that everyone knew where to go. In doing this, we would be at the front of the ride for its entitreity. After the safety briefing by Ross we got ourselves ready and on the stroke of midnight we were off into the night. 

Our ride progressed well and it was not too long until our first junction required marking. This was done efficiently and there was almost always a way marker on demand. 

The night started out as being quite mild but as the ride progressed things changed. Slight pockets of fog gave way to larger ones. My front lights picked up water vapour dancing around and eventually it turned into the finest of drizzle. It didn't actually rain but water was in the air making things damp. 

Up at the front - a very unusual place to be - Mark, Jenny and I cycled with purpose. At times Mark and I took over the front and we all worked well together. 

Sanctuary came in the form of the Scout hut at about 03:30. There we sat in warmth and comfort and able to partake in a couple of cups of tea, sandwiches, banana and packet of crisps. It was a little bit like a tuck shop and I loved it.

An hour later we were off again and I had to layer up. I didn’t feel too cold but knew I’d feel much more comfortable with something else on. Again that fine drizzle was around. 

The next few miles we got ready for Turners Hill. In the distant past I might have found this a challenge but having now cycled up it so many times, it doesn’t really hold too much fear for me. We made our ascent with the strange drizzle, that wasn't quite rain, still falling (or should I say floating around). 

As always dawn crept up suddenly and before we knew it it was daytime. The next few miles were all rather pleasant and hearing earlier that we would pass by Shoreham station,  I had decided to end the the ride for me there. 

With the station about 20 metre to my left, I said goodbye to Mark who had been with me at the front all night, and marked the junction. The riders were quite spaced out so this was quite a wait. I said goodbye to Jenny, Geoff and Dr John and some of the other riders as they made their way to the end a couple of miles away. Eventually the all up was heard and I said my goodbyes. 

The train arrived and wasn't too busy but certainly had more people than I usually see when departing from Brighton Station. It was hard at times not to nod off but wanting to keep an eye on my beloved Brompton kept me awake. 

I arrived back at Victoria in good time and made my way to SW7, doing my best to avoid eye contact with someone I thought I recognised from university! It might not have been then but better safe and all that. Once home I had a quick shower and and change of clothes and refuelled with Mrs Orange having a much healthier option. 

This was a lovely ride. Not my favourite route to that neck of the woods but always enjoyable. Mnay thanks Jenny for leading, Mark for his work at the front, the tail end Charlies at the back and to all the riders who marked junctions. 

Sadly, it also marked the end of the official night ride to the coast season for me as I am unable to attend the last one today. Until next time, stay safe out there people. 

Monday, 6 September 2021

New Brompton Bag Liberty Fabric

To date, my idea of London Transport themed material being used for Brompton bags had not happened but another set of Liberty Fabric has been released. 

Just like the 'Metropolis' a material I do like, they have just released a new blue version called, 'Jonathan.' Just like the 'Metropolis' you can get this in a backpack, basket bag, tote bag and pouch. 

Liberty Fabric Jonathan

I think it looks rather good. I already have far to many bags so won't be getting on but i do think that the little pouch could come in very handy - especially on my Cloud Blue.

Friday, 3 September 2021

London themed Brompton rides

I have been a Londoner all my life. In the past I have lived within a short walk of some of the famous touristy bits. Since meeting Mrs Orange I have lived a little further out but still well under 30 minutes on the tube from all the good stuff. I have always been interest in history and the history of London in particular and at university - you guessed in in London - I read history. Lately I have found cycling on one of my Brompton bicycles has helped.

You might have read some of the day rides that I been attending in which I have cycled around London on a particular theme: pubs, Monopoly and recently cats. You might also have read my own efforts with my Beatles locations ride. Armed with various maps, books on London walks and book about the history of London I have been working away on a few rides purely for my own interest. 

I have been putting the finishing touches to:

  • Roman London 
  • Notting Hill
  • Holland Park to Kensington 
  • P G Wodehouse and Mayfair
May of these can actually be done as walking routes too and as Mrs Orange does not cycle, that is how will be test them out. Naturally, what makes a ride/walk really good is the quality of tea and cake stops. They will feature heavily. 

On my study wall I have a large map of central London that I use together with google maps on my iMac to view routes. Once I have a rough idea of where I want to start and end, I head on to Ride With GPS and plotting a route that can be followed via my Wahoo, phone or watch is but a few clicks away. 

So, in the future you might be able to read about some of these that I have mentioned. 

Until Next time, stay safe out there people!

Tuesday, 31 August 2021

Purrfect Brompton London ride

Last Sunday (29th) I was up early and off to the start of the 'Purrfect' ride which as you can probably guess was very much cat themed. Some of you may or may not know, but I own several Maine Coon cats and I suppose you could say that I am very much a cat lover. It was therefore of little surprise to me that there would be so many cat themed references around London. 

The start was Russell Square and Nick - our ride leader and all round good egg - was already there along with some familiar faces. At about 09:45 we headed off to our first stop.

This stop wasn't too far away and outside Euston Station our first cat was a statue of Captain Matthew Flinders and his cat 'Trim.' Flinders is credited with with the name Australia being given to the country Australia. His cat Trim accompanied him on his journeys. Flinders was buried in St James's churchyard behind the station with the actual location being forgotten. When HS2 works began behind the station, his grave was rediscovered. Along with several others he will be reburied at some point in the near future. 

Further up the road Greater London House. A former cigarette factory, at its entrance stands two 2.6 metre high bronze statues of cats in the Egyptian style. There are a number of other cat themed decorations and it's a really lovely building. Not far away in the British Museum you can see the real thing. 

Cycling through Camden is always interesting and on a Sunday morning in daylight, probably a little subdued. 

Not too far away in Anglers Lane, Kentish Town there is a monument plague dedicated to a cat called Boris who loved at the house between 1986 and 1996. There isn't really a huge amount of details or background but I bet Boris was not only loved but a real character. 

We cycled further along through a section of Hampstead Heath. In the distance the London skyline could be seen. We also passed Highgate Cemetery (not as good as Kensal Green in my opinion) and part of Swains Lane. This is a famous steep climb but Nick - who does not like hills - managed to find a flat part. 

Our next stop was the entrance to the Whittington Hospital. Above the entrance is a large sculpture of a cat. The first hospital on this site was built to cater for lepers in 1473. On this day a bemused delivery driver could not quite fathom what on earth we were all doing - by the look on his face. 

Just round the corner came our next stop on Highgate Hill. The Whittington Stone 0f 1821 - with statue of cat added in 1964 - marks the approximate spot where future Lord Mayor of London, Dick Whittington was heading back to his from the City where he had not made his fortune. He apparently heard the ringing of Bow Bells in the distance and had a change of heart. 

As we turned into Whittington Park a floral cat sculpture stopped us in our tracks for more photos. 

Within Islington Green sits a memorial to the street cat 'Bob.' Bob the cat had a strong friendship with busker and 'Big Issue' seller James Bowen, James credited Bob in helping him to turn his life around. He penned their adventures into several books and there is even a film. 

In Queens Square almost as if jumping off the top of a wall is a bronze statue of a cat called, Sam. The statue does in fact commemorate Patricia Penn - a former resident of the square and cat lover and nurse - who championed local causes. 

Our next stop was the Savoy hotel. I have only been inside a coupe of times for cream tea type snacks but have been dragged to the theatre next door a few times. Outside are some topiary cats based on the Savoy's own cat Kaspar. Carved in 1927 Kaspar was the 14th guest in the dining room when 13 guests were present. 

You might spot that the cars are exiting on the wrong side of the road. This is as the entrance to the Savoy Theatre is on the right hand side of the road and the idea is that anyone waiting to drop people off at said theatre won't block the entrance to the hotel. 

Heading south we arrived at our penultimate destination, the Salter's family cat statue overlooking the Thames in Bermondsey in a prime location. Also sitting in a prime location was the chap enjoying the views. He ruined my photo but I forgave him instantly when he said, 'lovely bike.'

Our final destination before heading back to Russell Square was to Gough Square to see Hodge cat. Hodge belonged to Dr Samuel Johnson - of dictionary fame amongst other things - and he was suppsoed to have spoilt it rotten. Quite right really! 

Once all the photos were taken we headed back to where wee started. I said my goodbyes before heading back. In all I cycled just under 28 miles. 

As always a great ride and lovely to see and hear about parts of London that are new to me. London has so much history and stories that there is always something new to be found. Many thanks to Nick. 

Until next time, stay safe out there people!